I hear midterms of second semester is also right around the time when grad students are basically questioning the meaning of their existence. What in the world am I doing here? Is it worth it? Why am I even studying in this field? How is everyone in my life so much smarter than me? Why has this person been talking to me nonstop for the past hour? (oh. That’s my professor.)
So right now I’m not writing this post because I’m a procrastinator (although…I mean, I could probably use some work in that area) but because a powerful treatment for getting lost among the pixels of responsibilities, so to speak, is to zoom out and look at the full picture. Why am I doing what I’m doing? For my SLP friends I’ll put it this way: I need to reexamine my treatment plan and identify the LTGs that all my STOs are guiding me towards.
For me, this involves asking the question: “Why am I studying Speech-Language Pathology?"
1. To constantly stretch myself. Speech-language pathology is a field that requires constant problem solving and staying up to date with the most current and effective methods of treatment. Though right now it’s a little hard to imagine enjoying even more studying, I know that as I go on to practice in the field, this need to stay informed and effective will reduce chances that I’ll settle into a routine of complacency. Whether I like it or not, my load of responsibilities right now is part of the process giving me the base of experiences and knowledge on which to build in the future when I begin to practice independent of supervision.
2. To exercise creativity. Before considering speech-language pathology as a major, I considered pursuing an occupation in art as a graphic design artist or illustrator. Now, I’ve found that exercising within the confines of speech-language pathology has provided a useful channel for creativity and given me frequent opportunities to use art — whether it involves drawing articulation cards or visually illustrating a speech concept. More generally applicable to all speech-language pathologists, though, creativity is a must in so many other areas, from quick and effective creative problem solving in the hospital setting to figuring out how to control rowdy first graders in the schools. Whether they admit or not, every good speech-language pathologist is admirably creative.
3. The money!
3. To make an impact on another person’s life. For me, this is the most important reason I’m studying speech-language pathology. The more I learn about communication, the more I realize just how indispensable it is to life. Opening up the world of human interaction has lifelong and even potentially eternal positive effects. So whether it’s helping an adult who is learning how to speak again after a stroke, or a child who is learning how to appropriately interact with the world around him, I see the facilitating of communication as one of the most impactful interactions a human can have with another human being. With this long term goal of impacting another person’s life, my short period of feeling overwhelmed in grad school falls into a much different perspective. I think that it’s worth it after all.
Though this list is very me-specific, I’d encourage you to sit down and take a look at your big picture again. Let yourself mix your reality with a good dose of idealism. Remember just why it is you’re doing what you're doing, and let that motivate you to excel.